Super Bowl Volunteers


The 2017 Super Bowl LI logo that will be used next year in Houston.

Marialuisa Rincon, Staff Writter

Houston is counting down the days until the Super Bowl returns to Houston for its fifty-first year.

Andy Newman, the Director of Volunteer Programs, has a big job to complete. In about 340 days, he must recruit and oversee the training of 10 thousand volunteers that will help guide the million or so visitors expected to descend on Houston the week of Feb. 5, 2017.

For those hoping their volunteer gigs would score them free tickets to the big game, you’re out of luck. Volunteers won’t even be working inside NRG Stadium.

“That’s important to say,” Newman explains. Of course, that could narrow down the pool of applicants, but this is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Last year, the NFL announced that it would end its decades long tax exempt non-profit status.

The change means that the organization must start paying income taxes, but this end of an era means the NFL no longer has to publically disclose financial information like executive pay.

Now a for-profit business which made $327 million in revenues in 2013 and paid their top executive $44 million in 2012 is asking for 10 thousand Houstonians to work for them for nothing but the “once-in-a-lifetime” experience.

Still, they probably won’t have a problem finding 10 thousand people in this city of almost 6 million who have a fervent love for the sport and wish to be involved with the biggest day of the football season.

One of the main goals for the Host Committee is that the body of volunteers represents the most diverse city in the country. “I want to ensure that the volunteer team represents that diversity and Southern hospitality,” says Newman.

Hosting the Super Bowl is nothing new to Houston. The city has already hosted the game twice—in 1974 and 2004—but every new event has its challenges, from the changing times and current events.

Newman says that though the Host Committee looks to past years in Houston as guidance, the city has changed a lot since the game was held here, and they’re mostly learning from Super Bowls held in recent years.

Houston has undergone a rapid development of parks and green spaces in the last few years that adds opportunity for more Super Bowl-related activities and possible revenue streams. For example, Newman points out that Discovery Green was “more concrete-y” in 2004, and that applies to almost anywhere in central Houston.

Newman explained what will happen over the next eleven months.

Currently, applications for volunteers have already been released and are open through April. To attract applicants, Newman says the committee has been doing “a lot of community engagement.”

Requirements are outlined on the website, and potential Super Bowl LI volunteers must assure that they have the personality, availability and time to commit. Anyone who will be at least 18 years old on Dec. 31 is welcome to apply.

This summer, the committee will reach out to all applicants and assess in what area they would like to serve.

Though the committee doesn’t know exactly how many applications to expect, in the early fall the number will be whittled down to 15 thousand candidates who will be interviewed face-to-face at the Volunteer Recruitment Center.

By the end of October or early November, successful applicants will be notified and in-depth training will start with an orientation that shows “what it means to be a Houston Host Committee Super Bowl volunteer” and preparing them for venue-specific roles. Newman says the goal at this point is to get volunteers excited about what they will be doing.

As the big day approaches, volunteers will receive their official uniforms and credentials sometime in January. Volunteers will begin to execute their duties on Jan. 27.

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